On May 24, 2011, the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board authorized DCR to initiate three fast-track regulatory actions to amend the board’s Impounding Structure Regulations in response to approved legislation and directed the department to assemble a Regulatory Advisory Panel (RAP) to make recommendations to the director and the board regarding the contents of the draft final regulations.
The three action items the board directed DCR and the RAP to consider are:
- Develop regulations that consider the impact of downstream limited-use or private roadways with low traffic volume and low public safety risk on the determination of the hazard potential classification of an impounding structure;
- Develop regulations that provide a method to conduct a simplified dam-break inundation zone analysis; and
- Develop regulations that set out the necessary requirements to obtain a general permit for a low-hazard impounding structure.
In accordance with this direction, an 18-member RAP composed of private, local and state dam owners, and engineers was assembled. The RAP held meetings on Oct. 18 and Nov. 10. The regulations developed represent general consensus by the committee.
The regulations represent striking a balance between public safety and the reduced risks associated with low-hazard impounding structures. Key elements of the regulations include:
- Provisions to allow for the use of incremental damage analyses to modify hazard potential classifications.
- The use of an annual average daily traffic (AADT) volume of 400 vehicles or less as the number where a roadway may be considered “limited use” and processes by which such an impounding structure may qualify for low-hazard potential classification.
- The implementation of a streamlined general permit process with reduced requirements for low hazard dams.
- The ability for DCR to assist specified dam owners by conducting simplified dam-break inundation zone analyses for them.
All of these provisions provide true economic and regulatory relief for low-hazard potential dam owners while remaining mindful of the board’s public safety obligations.
The regulations became effective on Nov. 8, 2012. (Links below lead to PDFs or other webpages unless otherwise noted.)
Click on the links below for information about the regulatory process.
- Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board (VS&WCB) meeting, Dec. 7, 2011
- Material from Nov. 10, 2011, Regulatory Advisory Panel meeting
- Material from Oct. 18, 2011, Regulatory Advisory Panel meeting
- Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board (VS&WCB) meeting, May 24, 2011